A Way Out: Book One

Chapter Five: Starting Over

"You two have become quite close haven't you?" Debbie asked We were having lunch together at a cafe near our apartments. It had been a week since the three of us were talking in my apartment after Carson brought me home.

"Yes we have, he has changed my life."

"I can tell he has, you smile more and have a lighter step when you walk. You even sound happy when you talk."

"I really hope so because I need to be better than I used to. I need to think about me, I tend to forget that sometimes. He tries to get me to focus on me and already tells me to slow down not to be so busy." she nods her head in agreement.

"He is right about that, you get so caught up with those kids and you need time away from the center. I know you love working with them but you need to set limits."

"I know I do and wanting to be with him, talking to him helps me not want to be there so much. I do want to help them like I use to but I am going to take it easy."

"Good I am glad you see it that. Now tell me did you fuck him yet?" She asked like it was a normal thing we talk about

"Deb, what the fuck? You can't just, just blurt a question like that out in public. Not that it's any of your business."

"So I take that as a yes then?" I just looked at her.

"Does it matter? We are adults what we do in private is our own business." I replied bluntly

"I knew you did. Oh, my god you did it before he brought you home didn't you? That was what the looks were about, not just that you liked each other but because you two did it," she smiled all happy she figured it out.

"This does not leave this table got it?" She nodded "I did not just fuck him it was more than that is was passionate and caring, we made love. I was his first."

"That would explain the way he was looking at you then. Like you are his world."

"There is more to it than that trust me." I saw the doubt on her face. "We spent a lot of time together in those two short days very little of it sexually I might add. It was more like two people that had pain in their lives bonding. We shared a lot with each other. Deep down stuff that was hard to get out. Somehow, it was easier talking to one another than other people. You and I are close we talk all the time but I was able to tell him things that I otherwise had a hard time thinking about let alone discussing it."

She could tell I was telling her the truth. Her expression softened I think she understood what I getting at. She was quiet, thinking about what I said then she replied

"You love each other I can see it more clearly now. Not as a couple but two people who shared a special time together and love developed. When I first saw you two, together I knew there was love between you but I construed it as the two of you falling in love. Not yet at least"

"Exactly. Now you get it. I loved no I am still in love with James but the love that Carson and I have is different. Does that mean that is the only kind of love there will be between us? No, I doubt it. I adore him, Debbie, he has an effect on me that makes me feel, think so differently than I have in a long time. Believe it or not, it started from the moment I saw him."

I then retold here about the first encounter with him on his bike up to when we hugged outside of his parents' home. Talking all this out with her helped me understand things more clearly.

We finished lunch and went our separate ways. I had to get back to work. I had only been back a couple days so I had lots to do. I really did miss going there. But what I missed most was going there happy and full of life rather than just going because it was my job.

 Everyone was glad I came back and happy I was doing better as well. As soon as I sat down at my desk, there was a knock on the door.

"Come in" it was Amie, a volunteer that was here for the summer. She was a college student that started coming to help back when she was in high school.

"How was your lunch break?" She asked as she sat in the chair in front of my desk.

"It was good thank you, I had lunch a Debbie today and we had a good catch up." Debbie came in once in a while to have lunch with me. She came more when I was having problems. Maybe she was trying to keep her eye on me more.

"Oh, that's good how is she?"

"She is doing well keeping busy as always. So what's up?"

"Someone came by to see you while you were out. When I first saw him I thought he was a high school kid but I realized he was older like closer to my age" My mind was jumping ahead but I asked

"Did he leave his name or what he wanted?"

"That's the thing he just asked if you were here, when I told him you were out to lunch he thanked me and left. I thought it was kinda weird is all."

"What did he look like?"

"Um, he was about your height, really cute with long black hair and bright green eyes. I know it doesn't help much but that's all I can remember." My suspicions were correct.

"It's okay nothing to worry about then." she relaxed but said.

"Are you sure?"

"Very sure Amie, I know who you are talking. He is a friend of mine. I guess he came by to surprise me for lunch." I smile to reassure her

"Okay, that's good. He sure is a cute guy and those eyes wow. I couldn't turn away."

"Yes, he is a looker, isn't he? I know what you mean about those eyes too."

"Kirk I don't mean to nosy or anything but is he your boyfriend; it seems kinda soon after what happened with James?" She blushed. I guess she couldn't help but ask.

"No, he is not my boyfriend. We are just friends. He helped through that rough time I was having. I owe him a lot for that." I paused "Was there anything else?" I wanted to put a stop to any more questions.

"Hmm no, I don't think so I just wanted to let you know about him."

"Okay good." She got up and opened the door. "Oh, Amie?"

"Yea Kirk?" she turned to me

"Let's keep what I said between us okay? I am telling others at my own pace about my mending. She just smiled and nodded her head in understanding.

I was surprised he stopped by; I thought about texting him but thought I'd wait until I talk to him again to ask him about his stopping by.

We have talked every day since that last night we stayed together. However, he was so busy we hadn't seen each other beyond that night. Since we had gotten to know each other and got past our pains, we learned we could talk about anything which was good, because sometimes we just wanted to talk just to hear each other. We texted as well but mostly just little things here and there. He was very lonely because he didn't actually have friends aside from me. I hope he can move on from the effects of his pain and be able to be a happy college boy with more friends.

I worked at my desk for a few more hours but I had to stretch and move around so I made my rounds to see the kids and talk to our afternoon volunteers. Kerry or as we call her Gram eyed me I could tell she wanted to talk. Once she could get away she found me and asked

"Did Amie tell you about your visitor?" She smiled at me

"Yes, she did. I told her not worry that he was a friend of mind." I could tell she wanted more but it wasn't going to happen.

"You're gone for a while and when you come back you have a cutie come visit you? You must have been up to more than getting back to your old self." I just rolled my eyes at her and said.

"Gram you got the same email as everyone letting you know I was on the mend and doing much better. I did some soul searching while I was gone. Along the way, I met him. What matters is that I am back."

"Alright, I can take a hint." She gave me a hug and went back to her group of younger kids. Gram gets here about 1 PM every day to set things up for the younger kids. She is retired but comes here after her part-time job in the morning. She loves children but she could never have any of her own so she comes here to help out and spend time with our children. Which is good because they need the most attention but the older ones come and go doing what they want.

I was about to go back into my office when I saw Matt one of our teenagers. He was really shy most of the time. I was surprised he even came here but I guess it's better than staying at home all summer. I thought I would go talk to him.

"Hi, Matt how are you doing today?" I gave him a big smile. He gave a weak smile in return but least he did smile.

"I'm good," He said quietly

"What you will you be doing today? Remember you can play any games you want or even help out Gram with the younger kids."

"I was just gonna read."

"If that is what you want to do it's okay. Don't be afraid to interact with the other kids. They are all friendly well most of them that is."

"I know. I just like to be by myself and read today.

"Alright if you need anything don't hesitate to ask okay?" He nodded and went to find his place to read.

We adults interact with all that come in as much as we can so they feel it's safe to be here and so we can be aware of anything issues that may arise.

At 5 o'clock when the last of the kids went home, I locked the doors. During the summer, we are open mornings and afternoon. However, we close to make so everyone can get home to their families. During school, we are open to the children from 3 to 6 sometimes later depending. I open the doors at 9 AM every weekday morning to get my day started. We have a cleaning crew that comes in every day after the kids are gone in the summer or in the morning during school, they come to do light cleaning work mostly sanitizing, mopping and vacuuming. We make sure everyone cleans up after themselves so the cleaning crew doesn't spend their whole time cleaning up after us.

I do any shopping needed to make sure things are all stocked up. We don't have food for the children as we are an after-school program, not a daycare. The food we do have is for the children we know that don't get enough food from home so we started having a food pantry where others could bring food for those that didn't have enough. That worked out better than we all expected. After a while, those who come to volunteer or come by for whatever reason brought something for the pantry.

I left for home feeling good and looking forward to a quiet evening at home. Well, of course, I'd enjoy some company but doubted I would get to see Carson. Once I got to my door like any other day I was greeted by the ball of fur in need of some loving and of course more food. I sat on the stairs that lead up to my place petting Sir. I enjoyed the little time I did get to pet him because he wasn't always in the mood to let someone pet him. I let him in and he dashed for his dish of dry food, he waited impatiently until I filled it. I keep a cat box for him for the occasions he wanted to stay and visit. Sometimes I find his toys hiding in my home. I just leave 'em there. If he wants them, he knows where to find them.

In the last week since feeling better, I spent more time cleaning up the apartment. I cleaned the front room, kitchen/dining area, my room the guest room/office and the bathroom. I hired a carpet cleaning company to do the carpets and furniture. It was nice to come home to a nice clean apartment again. When I told Carson what I was doing, he offered to come help but I only want him to visit when he comes.

I got changed out of what I wore to work into shorts and a t-shirt. Then found something simple to eat. When I finished eating and cleaning up there was a knock on the door. About the only one that visits without letting me know first is Debbie so I figured it was her. I opened the door to find a very good-looking yet tired young man standing there. He was wearing black pants and a red shirt with a logo of a hardware store on it, also a nametag.

This was the first time I had seen him in a week. Butterflies flew around my full belly and my chest tightened as my heart sped up.

"What a nice surprise, I just finish eating and a sexy boy comes to my door." I grinned as I looked into his eyes. "Come on in." He stepped inside; soon as I closed the door, he wrapped his arms around me so I did the same. I could smell his cologne and his sweat. It was pleasant and comforting. I rubbed his back with one hand and held his head against mine with the other. We just stood there holding each other not saying a word the whole time. I didn't realize just how much I missed him until that moment holding him, smelling his scents and feeling his heart beat next to mine. I let go, took him by the hand to lead him to the couch and we sat. He leaned over and kissed me softly on the lips, I returned the kiss.

"I missed you so much. Since I worked at the store in town today, I wanted to see you. I even stopped by the center but some lady said you were on your lunch break." I kissed him again saying.

"I know she told me." he looks surprised.

"Wait how did she know it was me?"

"She said someone came by looking for me but left without giving her his name so I asked her what he looked like. Before she told me, I suspected it was you. She described you to a T down to your amazing green eyes. She said you were cute and asked if you were my boyfriend." That caused him to blush.

"I was out having lunch with Deb. I felt bad you missed me but I am glad you did. It would have been hard when you had to leave to get to work."

"Yeah, you're right about that."

"I take it you just got off work?"

"Yea I did. I debated whether I should come by or not."

"Why is that? Did you think I wouldn't want to see you?"

"Well no not that but I thought you wanted to be alone, not to mention I am a mess and I stink too."

He scooted back when he said that last part. He is such a cutie. I pull him to me and kiss him deeply. When we parted, I asked "Do you want to take a shower? You are more than welcome to. I'll even let you use some of my clothes like you did for me"

"That would be great." he paused. "long as I won't have to do it alone," he grinned at me with a dirty look in his eyes.

I lead him to the bathroom where we took turns stripping. As before we washed each other.

After our shower, we got dressed and sat on the couch again. With him, next to me and my arm around him we watched a show he likes. Talking a bit here and there. He told me the apartment looked a lot better.

"Why didn't you come by before now?"

"I wanted to wait until you invited me over I didn't want to seem too pushy."

"I didn't invite you because I wanted to get this placed cleaned up again before you came over. Also, you're welcome anytime you want to come over. Seems you remembered the code anyway. In fact?" I got up to get something from the other room. When I returned I handed it to him. " This was the clicker for the gate that James used, why don't you take it I don't need it so you might as well take it."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, Carson I am very sure. Think of it as sealing the deal that you are welcome anytime. Don't think you are being a bother or taking up my time. If you have doubts just text me to make sure. Everyone else does anyway. Expect Debbie but she knows if she wants to visit to just come by."

He hugged me and said "Thank you" He kissed my cheek.

"You're very welcome." We cuddled and continued watching TV, whatever looked good to watch. He told me he had to work the next day. This time he worked at the store closer to him but not until the afternoon. I invited him to stay the night and of course, he accepted. A few hours later, we headed to bed. We fell asleep with him in my arms and his fingers laced through mine.

With the weeks and months that followed, I got better with moving

on and accepting my loss of James. Carson and I grew closer as did my feelings for him. I'm sure his feelings for me grew as well. We continued to talk daily or text. He came to visit me and spent the night as often as possible. I did go visit him too of course well until his parents came back.

His confidence about his sexuality improved as did his willingness to let others into his life. He got more friends, which I was I happy for him. As the summered ended, it meant it was time for him to head back to school, which saddened both of us a great deal. But we knew we would stay in contact with phone calls and video chat whenever we could. He would have spent his last night with me but since his parents had returned he stay at home. I felt awful the day he left and so did he but he called me when he got resettled down  his new dorm. That made both of us feel better. 

Author's Notes:

A big thank you to Max and Mason.


Comments always appreciated at C. J. Gibb